Alibaba is leading a financing round of at least $600m for Chinese AI startup MiniMax, marking the tech giant’s second major deal in the AI space.

Since its launch two years ago, MiniMax has received funds from several investors at a valuation of over $2.5bn.

The Chinese startup was catapulted to success amid a global AI buzz sparked by the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022.

Alibaba recently led a $1bn funding round in Moonshot AI, another Chinese AI startup with a valuation of around $2.5bn.

The flurry of deals from the Chinese e-commerce giant signals the company’s willingness to join other major tech players in betting big on AI.

Alibaba and other Chinese companies like Baidu and Tencent have invested heavily in AI startups and released rival AI services.

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Baidu has been working on its in-house AI chatbot, Ernie, while investing in AI startups such as Zhipu and Baichuan with Tencent.

In 2023, Baidu claimed its Ernie chatbot matched the level of GPT in some tests.

The US continues to steam ahead in the value of its AI deals, according to GlobalData’s deal database.

In 2023, the value of US AI deals totalled $50bn, growing considerably from 2022 which saw deals total $33bn.

The value of AI deals in China totalled just $7.9bn in 2023, remaining practically unchanged from 2022 which saw deals total $7.4bn.

GlobalData forecasts that the overall AI market will be worth $909bn by 2030, having grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35% between 2022 and 2030. 

In the GenAI space, revenues are expected to grow from $1.8bn in 2022 to $33bn in 2027 at a CAGR of 80%.